JANINE SELF says that the F1 title race leader deserves SJA members’ votes for Sportsman of the Year
There is something about Lewis Hamilton which polarises opinion and, quite possibly, then deflects attention from his outstanding ability as an Formula 1 driver.
Becoming world champion for a second time would surely stamp Hamilton’s status in indelible ink in the record books as a special, British talent.
Barring an extraordinary change of fortunes, Hamilton will collect his second world title on behalf of Mercedes and at the expense of teammate Nico Rosberg in Abu Dhabi next month.
It is amazing to think that it is six years since he did it the first time, a 23-year-old rookie with attitude, a big smile and his Dad by his side.
In 2007, after his first season in F1, a somewhat wide-eyed Hamilton arrived at the Sports Journalists’ Association’s British Sports Awards lunch quite early, to look around the venue, and enjoy seeing his father, Anthony, together with Judy Murray and Enzo Calzaghe jointly collect our award to recognise the parents of all Britain’s world-class sportsmen and women.
Now, Hamilton is 29 and appears to have grown out of his daft, rebellious phase which involved lots of tattoos, high-profile gallivanting and a split from father.
Now we can truly appreciate the qualities of a driver who can cut through a field like a lawnmower through a meadow and who displays all the single-minded selfishness required to be the best.
And this year, Hamilton has been the best. It seems a long time ago now, March to be exact, when the season got off to a bad start in Australia with a retirement. His response was to win the next four races.
Going into Sunday’s GP in the United States, Hamilton has again won four consecutive Grands Prix. Only the great Michael Shumacher has ever done that before.
Hamilton is tied with Nigel Mansell on 31 GP victories, so the odds are that record will tumble, too.
Yes, he can be grumpy. Sometimes he says stupid things and he often gets into arguments with rivals and teammates. But that makes him far more interesting than a driving automaton.
Hamilton is up against big competition to win the SJA men’s award this year – Rory McIlroy is an obvious candidate – and critics will point to the fact that he is in the fastest car, therefore he should win his world title.
Rosberg is also in the fastest car and Hamilton came from behind to beat him in Bahrain while the German has not been able to do the same to his teammate and rival.
In Singapore, Hamilton caught out Sebastian Vettel in an overtaking manoeuvre which was questioned afterwards as being over-aggressive and risky.
Afterwards Vettel joked: “He couldn’t wait to get back into the lead.”
And that is why Hamilton is on the brink of becoming the motor racing champion of the world. With Dad back at his side.
- Freelance sports writer Janine Self is the SJA’s deputy chair
- Voting is now open for all SJA members to choose their Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year. Only SJA members are eligible to vote.
- The winners will be announced at the 65th annual SJA British Sports Awards, sponsored by The National Lottery and being staged in London on December 11.
- And if you want to make your own case for your favourite performer, or performers, of 2014, send your article to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Steven Downes: Why I’m voting for the England women’s rugby team
- Philip Barker: Why I’m voting for Lizzy Yarnold
- Norman Giller: McIlroy and Pavey get my votes
- Anton Rippon: Why I’m voting for Dan Greaves
- Craig Lord: Why I’m voting for Adam Peaty
- Randall Northam: Why I’m voting for Jo Pavey
- See our prompt list of other leading contenders
- And click here to register your vote
- The SJA is the largest member organisation of sports media professionals in the world. Join us: Click here for more details
UPCOMING SJA EVENTS
Thu Dec 11: SJA British Sports Awards, sponsored by The National Lottery, at the Grand Connaught Rooms
Mon Mar 23: SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, sponsored by BT Sport, at the Grand Connaught Rooms. Entry forms will be available in October 2014
Mon Sep 14: SJA Autumn Golf Day, Muswell Hill Golf Club